Performance Sailing Hardware Pioneer Olaf Harken Passes Away

Olaf Harken. ©Business Journals

BRISTOL, R.I. (October 21, 2019) – Olaf Harken passed away Monday morning after a weekend of accolades and family. Harken was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Pewaukee Yacht Club Awards Dinner on Saturday. He was a seasoned Scow sailor and business-man who enjoyed sharing his passion for sailing.

US Sailing extends their condolences to the Harken family during this difficult time. Olaf will be well remembered by the US Sailing community for his efforts to support our sailors on the water with the most cutting edge line of high performance equipment on the market. Thank you Olaf.

Olaf was the vice president and co-owner of Harken, Inc., an international manufacturer specializing in performance sailing hardware and industrial solutions, headquartered in Pewaukee, Wis. The company was founded in a 60-foot trailer in 1967 by Olaf and his brother Peter.

Following his time in the Navy, Olaf joined Peter in forming a company to make sailboats designed to withstand the rigors of college sailing clubs. Harken, Inc. created the widely famous ball-bearing blocks. Hugely successful, the blocks revolutionized the sailing hardware industry and became the preferred block of the best sailors in the world.

Olaf Harken & US Sailing:

  • Supplier and Sponsor to the US Sailing Team since 1968
  • First U.S. builder of the 470 – Won license to build prior to Olympic Selection
  • Leader of U.S. Olympic Equipment Selection process for 470
  • Builder of Olympic Flying Dutchman
  • Builder of Olympic Finn
  • Hosted Finn Gold Cup in 1984 in partnership with US Sailing
  • Member of US Sailing Offshore committee

Olaf Harken Bios: